In 2015, we developed the world’s first holistic sustainability standard for cashmere – the SFA Cashmere Standard.
At the heart of the standard are our codes of practice, which outline best practice requirements that must be followed in order for producers to become SFA Certified. We help producers to comply with the requirements of our codes of practice through training and capacity building and our credible assurance process involves independent assessment.
The SFA Cashmere Standard is based on extensive research and consultation with herder cooperatives, national government, industry experts and conservationists. Following ISEAL best practice guidelines, the codes of practice are refined and improved through a process of ongoing development, monitoring and evaluation.
Our standard can be used by other groups, delivery partners and programmes to promote best practice in land management, animal welfare, fibre processing and supply chain transparency.
The SFA has collaborated with ICCAW and developed a joint Cashmere Goat Animal Welfare Code of Practice for Inner Mongolia.
Our codes of practice set out the requirements that herders and processors need to comply with to be accredited against the SFA Cashmere Standard. We provide training on the code of practice requirements and carry out capacity building work to improve compliance levels. Producers are certified at bronze (minimum requirements met), silver or gold (fully compliant with requirements) level. Our three-tier assurance mechanism ensures that our process for accrediting producer organisations against the SFA Cashmere Standard is robust, appropriate and credible.
The Rangeland Stewardship Code of Practice
Conserving natural resources and native wildlife requires collective action by herding communities. The Rangeland Stewardship Code of Practice requires that herders demonstrate their performance of good practice in adaptive management, indicated by preparation and implementation of a rangeland management plan that is then closely monitored. The goal is for herders to adopt active and adaptive stewardship practices that are appropriate to their situation and are most likely to improve rangeland condition and local livelihoods.
Find more information about how the SFA protects rangelands here and download a summary of the Rangeland Stewardship Code of Practice here.
Animal Husbandry Code of Practice
The Animal Husbandry Code of Practice addresses the five freedoms of animal welfare in the context of Mongolian cashmere production. The code of practice includes requirements relating to food and water, living environment, health, herd management, kidding and kid management, combing and shearing, handling and transport as well as end of life and risk management plans.
In collaboration with ICCAW (International Cooperation Committee of Animal Welfare), we are currently developing a joint code of practice that is adapted for the Inner Mongolia region of China. The draft is currently open for public consultation (more details on our Resources page).
Find out more about our work on animal welfare here.
The Clean Fibre Processing Code of Practice
The Clean Fibre Processing Code of Practice has been developed for ‘first stage’ processing plants that scour (wash) and dehair raw cashmere fibre and is currently being piloted by several Mongolian processors. The requirements are focused on the reduction and elimination of harmful chemicals such as APEOs, efficient use of energy and water and ensuring safe, fair working environments.
Find out more about the importance of the Clean Fibre Processing Code of Practice here.
Our assurance procedure was developed following guidelines from ISEAL (the global association for credible sustainability standards), to ensure that we are implementing our standard correctly and effectively. Along with our three-step process, ISEAL provides an overarching verification of the credibility of the SFA Cashmere Standard.
The SFA is developing a chain of custody model for tracing fibre from SFA-Certified sources along the supply chain, allowing members to make sustainability claims regarding the presence of SFA-Certified cashmere in their products and to use the SFA-Certified logo. We piloted this model in 2019 in collaboration with the UNDP and using blockchain technology from Convergence tech. In 2020, we have expanded this model to trace certified cashmere all the way to the final product, allowing participating SFA members to make credible claims regarding the sustainability of their cashmere.
Find out more information on the 2020 Chain of Custody Pilot in Resources.
Beyond a Standard
The SFA is more than a standard holding body. Through training, workshops and partnerships, we promote collective action to encourage sustainable practices and build the resilience of cashmere producers for future change.
With the support of our members, we coordinate a variety of projects to benefit cashmere producers. These include fibre sorting and breeding initiatives, conservation of local wildlife, educational opportunities for youth and sustainability awards for exemplary herders. We also collaborate with a major national bank to provide low-interest loans to herders that register with the SFA.
We are working continuously at national and international levels to form strategic partnerships and bring about sector-wide transformation of the cashmere industry. We are a key partner of the UN Mongolian Sustainable Cashmere Platform and an active participant in the Round Table for Responsible Cashmere.
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